At the Normandy Park City Council meeting on Tuesday night, May 14, 2024, the Council issued proclamations for Safe Boating Week and National Police Week.

In addition, they restructured some city fees, and unanimously approved salary increases for several key positions.

Also, Senator Karen Keiser provided a state legislative update, highlighting accomplishments such as a balanced budget and progress on air and noise pollution reduction.

Safe Boating Week Proclamation

Mayor Eric Zimmerman read a proclamation in recognition of National Safe Boating Week, May 18–24, 2024. In the past, Normandy Park has offered residents a safe boating class in the spring. This year, it’s likely that this instruction will be offered in the fall.

National Police Week & Peace Officers Memorial Day Proclamation

This proclamation was made in recognition of the invaluable contributions officers make in maintaining public safety, and the risks they incur in their daily work. Police Chief Dan Yourkoski received this proclamation, and said, “Every day feels like Police Day in Normandy Park”, since the community is so supportive of officers.

Changes To City Fee Structures

Council voted to restructure some of its fees. The late fee on altered pet registration used to be $13, and will now be reduced to $5, which just covers the cost of processing.

The other fee changes involve an increase in the cost for attendees at the preschool, and this decision was not unanimous. As City Manager Amy Arrington explained, she was recently informed that the preschool has been using the fellowship room at times for free at the church where the school rents space. This room has incurred some damage, and the church would like to charge the member rate for use of the space. In addition, there are some materials costs that are going up.

Councilmember Susan West argued for the city to take on this increased cost. She explained that the city covers the cost of many arts events, and the preschool provides so much value to the community. However, Bischoff countered that it’s important to maintain financial neutrality, and that the preschool is remarkably cheap already. In addition, he said there is a program organized by preschool parents that helps families if costs are a burden. Deputy Mayor Sue-Ann Hohimer said that city money should be spent on programs that help the public as a whole, rather than just some families.

In the end, they voted to change the fees as proposed, with Councilmember West opposed.

Salary Increases Approved For Several Positions

Council voted unanimously to support salary increases for several department heads. These are full-time, non-union positions. There are six positions that will see a bump, including the city manager, police chief, finance director, community development director, public works director, and city clerk/human resources manager.

A salary survey was taken of comparable small cities in the area, and it was found that Normandy Park needs to increase the salaries for these positions in order to remain competitive. Mayor Zimmerman said that this issue keeps him up at night, worrying about valuable and important department heads being recruited by other cities who can offer more pay. He mentioned that in the last couple of years, salaries have gone way up and recruitment has gotten extremely aggressive. He said it was vital that we show how much we value our staff.

These increases will cost the city just over $111,000 per year. It was explained that this money wasn’t already allocated to anything, so no programs will be cut to fund these salaries. The recruitment cost to replace the finance director recently was $30,000, so it is worth avoiding additional recruitment.

To give the public time to weigh in on this matter, there will be a second reading at next month’s meeting, before these increases have final approval.

Legislative Update

Senator Karen Keiser, who will be retiring at the end of this year, gave Council her final legislative update. Senator Keiser said that during the short legislative session they were able to get a balanced budget passed. She added that over the last three years the state budget has earned a AAA bond rating.

She was proud to share that the state took a big step toward addressing faulty Port Packages, as well as other noise and air pollution mitigation. One package was approved for cleaning up the indoor air-quality of schools, and another includes $6 million to address air pollution.

Washington State will now be covering 100% of the cost of police officer training, rather than requiring departments to fund a portion of the cost. In addition, they will be increasing the capacity of the training centers. Keiser said staffing is an issue at every police department, and this will address that problem. She also said that state law now allows individual departments to create flexible schedules for experienced officers, so that they can reduce to part time without losing seniority. In the past, policing was an all-or-nothing position. She hopes this will help the state meet their goal of 30% female officers by 2030.

The state also passed legislation that should reduce the viability of stolen catalytic converter sales. Any dealers will need to provide documentation of where their catalytic converters came from. In addition, when cars are sold sellers will etch ID numbers onto the catalytic converter, so if it is stolen it will be identifiable.

Senator Keiser also shared that new gun legislation was passed, requiring gun owners to report theft within 24 hours and to be more proactive in preventing firearm theft.

Senator Keiser recommended Normandy Park take a regional approach along with other South Puget Sound cities on issues like housing and safety. Along those lines, Mayor Eric Zimmerman shared that at a recent meeting of the mayors, the talk was almost exclusively around issues of public safety, as it has been for some time. He expressed interest in holding a 33rd legislative district priorities consultation, with Keiser and other legislators, as well as representatives from sister cities in the district.